What’s good? What could be better?

After celebrating our first birthday in April, Diversity Agenda partners look back at what’s worked and where we’ll go next.

On 9 May, our members gathered in Wellington to share the initiatives they’ve launched this past year to create more welcoming and inclusive cultures. They also highlighted where the industry needs to be doing more. Here are some of the key outtakes:

Diversity initiatives that work

  • Stantec has created roles that work school hours and don’t work during school holidays.
  • By using more diverse interview panels and deliberately creating more diverse short lists, WSP Opus has broadened the diversity of the people it recruits.
  • WSP Opus has also increased the number of women on its senior leadership team, introduced more generous paid parental leave provisions (22 weeks), and created a support programme while people are on parental leave to keep them engaged.
  • Engineering New Zealand has introduced ‘wellness leave’ instead of ‘sick leave’ so that staff can use it for anything from looking after kids to having a mental health day without feeling bad.
Making everyone feel welcome

Our partners talked about how they are expanding their diversity focus to better include culture and ethnicity, through things like:

  • Celebrating different cultural holidays, like Diwali, Ramadan, Matariki and Chinese New Year
  • Holding events at different times, not just Friday afternoons, and having events that aren’t focused on drinking
  • Making sure everyone’s dietary requirements are respected.
Where we need to do better

Everyone recognised the need for more encouragement and support of women graduates with architecture and engineering degrees so they can continue into long-term careers and leadership roles. To achieve this, we need input from people in positions of power as well as at a grassroots level. And we’ll need to tackle issues such as:

  • conscious and unconscious bias
  • bullying
  • unfair distributions of work
  • inflexible workplaces.

Other areas of concern include mental health and well–being in the workplace, diversity and inclusivity on hiring panels and in candidate pools, engaging with older generations in the workforce, and a lack of cultural understanding and tolerance.

Where to next?

We’ll be prioritising our efforts on addressing some of these big issues with tailored events, toolkits and case studies. We’ve also identified a need to give more support to smaller firms and create a new focus on unprofessional behaviour. The session produced fresh ideas particularly around the development of a diversity toolkit that takes into consideration the varying size of firms and issues facing each industry.

The toolkit would include:

  • Case studies of successful diversity initiatives and programmes our partners have implemented.
  • Revisiting the diversity survey and tracking the results and changes that have happened.
  • Policy templates.
  • Tips and tricks for creating more inclusive work environments.
What you can do

When you commit to the Diversity Agenda, you commit to participating and being part of the conversation that will cause an industry-wide shift. You commit to making a concerted effort to change the way that your firm approaches inclusivity. Most importantly, you commit to changing patterns of behaviour, harmful language, and toxic work environments. That all starts by changing the mindset with which we approach diversity and inclusion. You can do this by:

  • Signing up to the Diversity Agenda.
  • Filling in the diversity survey.
  • Getting involved at a local level.
  • Attending Diversity Agenda events.
  • Signing up to the Dispatch newsletter.
  • Spreading the word to other firms.
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